Posted by: Jeff Timmins | December 13, 2010

Might not look like it but every company does RM

Over the last 6 months I’ve been talking with a lot of companies about their Release Management roles and I’ve found that everyone has a slightly different take on it.  I find this interesting because I would have guessed that RM would be more standardized.  Then again I shouldn’t be surprised by a role that doesn’t have a solid definition in the Computer Industry.

So I guess the RM role is a lot like Project Management role in companies – some have a dedicated PMO (Project Management Office), some of PMs sprinkled across various organizations and others spend time and money training a large portion of their workforce so they can have it “in their back-pocket” when needed.

Some of the interesting examples I have found (and image) are as follows:

  • Start-up companies like my friends at thoughtful.co, just starting out with about 5 people I’m imaging that RM goes something like this – Hey Dylan, is that code done yet and did you get someone to test it?  Yes Chris, coming up shortly and by the way you’re the tester.  Also Chris, remember to tell Tim about what we are changing today before you update Production.  The company is small enough that everyone knows what everyone is eating for lunch so this will work for a while.
  • The small one product SaaS companies that update code on a monthly basis that chooses to integrate RM across Development & Operations and alternates who acts as Point for each Release.  With limited resources this can work well when process is solid and documentation is valued.  When the company grows they may look to dedicate a resource for RM or coordinate RM in a Scrum of Scrum type meeting.
  • The huge Software companies that have an RM role in each team to make sure Release details are taken care of.  This is the opposite of the integrated model and can work well with good communication between the various RMs.  In this type of organization, the RM is responsible for more of the technical details related to the Release as well as the coordination work.
  • The large Online Software company that grow-up with integrating RM but finally decided to dedicate a resource to RM.  At this point the RM person is more of Air Traffic Controlresource as well as coordinating the integrated RM roles through-out the company.  This is a lot of work for one person but with the right tools and setting the right expectations in the teams providing the various updates it can be done successfully.
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